Dear friends, my name is Jeff and I am a recovering sex addict. Step 8 in the Addiction Recovery Program is “Seeking Forgiveness” with the key principle to “Make a written list of all persons you have harmed and become willing to make restitution to them.” The hardest part of Step 8 for me was knowing what was coming in Step 9 where I would have to talk with people. I had to resist my desire to keep the list as short as possible and just start writing. I quickly came to conflicting feelings as I wrote down names of individuals that I had wronged and started justifying to myself. For me, it was easier to first make a list of people that had hurt me or wronged me. I just started writing who they were and what they had done to offend me.

Similar to Step 4, I took things from periods of my life to really identify anyone that I felt had harmed me. I had memories from current situations all the way back to the bully in middle school and being wrongly punished by a teacher. I focused on getting to the full list and didn’t worry about how big or how small the hurt was, or whether it was intended, or how I took the incident. As I reviewed my list, I then thought about whether I had done something to those same people where I hurt or injured them. I found that many people were on both lists. I continued to pray about both lists to understand if there was anyone missing. Similar to my Step 4 inventory, I determined that I only wanted to go through this painful process one time so that when I was finished I had everything resolved.

listThe fact that I had written down the names of people who hurt me, with what I could now see were small offenses, helped me realize that I needed to include this same level of offense in my list of those I needed to seek forgiveness from. Both lists were very revealing. They were longer than I expected and I started to see patterns in my reactions and where I was being judgmental or easily offended. Now I needed to do something about it and forgive.

As I set about the process of forgiving everyone on my list, some were harder than others. I realized I was in the position of the man in the parable where the Lord says “I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellow servant, even as I had pity on thee?” (Matt 18:32-33). When I compared the list of offenses against me to my list of sins written for Step 4 and thought about how much the Lord really had done for me, I started to see things differently. I wanted to retain my forgiveness and so I sought charity. I went through my list and prayed about each individual and the associated incident. I asked the Lord to help me let go and truly forgive each one and then prayed for each individual. I felt a great sense of lightening my burden and increase of peace as I went through this process. This encouraged me to keep going.

Most individuals were easy to forgive because I realized how small the offense really was looking at it from my new perspective. Some, where I felt like the hurt was intended and the offenses were over a longer period of time, were more difficult. One in particular took several weeks of praying, working through feelings, and seeing where I was still being judgmental and prideful. I love my Savior because He first loved me and forgave me. I wanted to learn to love others and see them the way He sees them. I wish now that I had written down my specific feelings as I went through this process each day. It was an amazing journey going from hurt, resentment, hate and envy toward love and forgiveness.

The final step for me was to forgive myself. The years of being critical, emotionally isolated, short tempered, and impatient with my family along with the recognition of the missed opportunities for connection and love over the years were very hard for me to think about. I realized more fully just how much my addictive behaviors had impacted my wife and children and caused hurt to them that I can’t undo. I had passed on some negative emotions, habits, feelings and baggage that was now impacting their relationships and happiness. I wanted to try to fix it all but realized that I can’t. Fortunately, my Savior is also their Savior and He is working with them to heal and to forgive. I needed to let the Savior take this burden from me and forgive myself. This was also the best way I could help my family because it put me in the spiritual position where I was ready to seek restitution and reconciliation.

A Glimpse into Betrayal Trauma and Hope

from Susan

Hello dear friends. I have been very grateful for the opportunity this year to be a guest writer. This month I have been asked to share about the betrayal trauma that I experienced. These are more personal and in-depth feelings and experiences than I have shared to this point. It is my prayer that as you receive this the spirit will testify to you the reality of change, hope and recovery.

It was a beautiful Sunday in early spring 2012 that I discovered my husband’s addiction. Jeff was speaking in Sacrament Meeting that day; I was handing out little reminders for an upcoming Stake YW Camp meeting, which I was in charge of. Things felt good being “anxiously engaged in a good cause.” Jeff was the Gospel Doctrine teacher and it was there as I sat in the chapel that I found the list of pornographic sites on his phone. I looked at the list. I looked at him. “Not my husband . . . not MY husband.” Surely this had to be a mistake! “We are an active family in the church. Our son just finished his mission, our daughter is at BYU…we just went to the temple yesterday, we were even the witness couple…we pay our tithing…we have family prayer and scripture reading…”. All of these thoughts went through my head as I tried to process what was happening. I realized that I could not accuse him of something that I didn’t know. I didn’t want to rattle him as he was teaching, so I waited until his back was to the class, gathered my things and went to find a quiet place. On this list were some technical looking downloads and he must have been downloading something for work when this filth attached itself to it, I thought. So I opened one of the “technical” items on the list. Unfortunately it was porn and I knew.

I felt like I’d been hit by a train, my body parts strewn across a vast area. No idea of how to set things right, but knowing that I could not do it alone.

Gratefully our bishop took us right into that office, we did not wait. We talked to him right after Sunday School. In the days, weeks, months and years that followed our bishop was to be a great part of recovery for both of us.

Even with his support, I had experienced a trauma, one that I had never prepared myself to face. My emotions swung like a pendulum. I was hurt beyond anything I could have imagined and wanted to run to Jeff for help. At the same time I wanted to run from him, “he was the cause of this!” I didn’t trust my own judgment; after all, “I had chosen him.” It affected every part of my life. Everything was a reminder of the addiction because, for me, he was part of everything. I truly believed that we were “one” and because of this what affected him affected me.

That first night he started to confess. I made the decision that I wanted to hear everything, otherwise I would have just left him because I would have imagined worse. I can only face something that I know. As disclosure continued, more and more and more of his acting out filled my brain. My body couldn’t take it. I could not eat. I could not keep food down. Anything I tried to eat was vomited out. It was as though my body was trying to rid itself of this uninvited filth. I lost 9 pounds in 9 days. I sunk into a deep depression. I desperately wanted the pain to stop. Sleep was my only escape. When I sleep I dream very vividly. I remember waking up one morning thinking that it had all been a dream and when I came to the realization that it was not, I sunk even deeper.

When we experience a trauma we really don’t know how we will react. I could not make sense of anything that was going on; I just wanted it all to stop. Many spouses of addicts experience “self abuse” at this time, me being one of them. As my mind replayed the information that Jeff had given me, I wanted it out! I had suicidal thoughts. I would bang my head hard against our headboard trying to shatter the images. I would go forcefully hit my head against things until I was bruised and swollen. I just wanted out of the emotional pain! I was willing to trade pain for pain.

I went to many sources for help. I went to my family doctor and he prescribed an antidepressant. I went to my bishop and he prescribed at least 30 minutes of personal time with the Lord each day in prayer and scripture study. I went to a counselor and she prescribed books and behavior modification. I went to an LDS book site and ordered every book on the subject. I continued to go to the Lord, “Please Father! Please help!” Often that was the only prayer I could get out. I did all of the things that each of these sources gave me to do and didn’t seem to be getting any better. But in reality, I was slowly getting better. I was just unable to see it.

I thought that my source of healing would be in Jeff’s recovery. “If only he got better…then I would.” This is a myth. My source of healing was in the things that I had started doing, but I didn’t realize that what I had thought were Giant Leaps were simply Baby Steps. But it was ok. Each step I took toward healing brought me needed relief. I began to realize that I could not rely on an outside source to fix what was inside. These wonderful resources all taught that very principle. “Don’t suffer needlessly the consequences of another’s sins,” Richard G. Scott pleads. This suffering is unnecessary in the recovery of the spouse and only leads to further harm.

This is only a portion of my journey, a dark one, a real one; however there is light that follows. There really is hope. There really is healing. And this is because there really a Savior and He loves us.


Desire to Change

Dear friends, my name is Jeff and I am a recovering sex addict. Step 7 in the Addiction Recovery Program is Humility with the key principle to “Humbly ask Heavenly Father to remove your shortcomings.” I kind of went through step 7 and step 6 repeatedly as I was working the 12 steps. I asked Heavenly Father to remove my shortcomings every day and then would work on them. I continued to repent of my failures and try again. Some character weaknesses are harder for me to give up than others. However, as I continued to work on them, and felt the spirit more consistently, my faith and confidence in my Savior’s love for me and His willingness to guide me continued to grow.

My feelings of “losing my identity” or “giving up who I was” slowly gave way to a growing excitement of who I was becoming through Christ. I learned that I had to willingly and fully offer my sacrifice of my broken heart and my contrite spirit to the Lord as I asked for His help. When I reached this point, my attitude changed, my prayers changed and my outlook on life changed. I was finally willing to give up all my sins, character weaknesses, and my prideful desire to do things my way. I was happier and had a much more positive outlook on my future and life in general. I was able to trust God that whatever came for me, He would help me through it and it would be for my good. It has become somewhat of an adventure of discovery.

One example is our family move to China. There we so many pieces that needed to get aligned to make the move a possibility that I was very doubtful it would happen. There had been many other opportunities that had always fallen through. In addition, I wasn’t sure whether it would be a good thing for my relationship with Susan or a bad thing. I received an answer to prayer that it was the right thing for me to pursue with work so I did. It was fascinating to see each piece fall into place to make it a great experience. The project was approved, the budget was approved, a person who was a roadblock with work was reassigned which cleared the way. Arrangements for someone to take care of the house fell into place. My daughter, who did not want to miss her senior year of high school with the friends she had grown up with, received an answer to prayer that changed her attitude. Even with my commitment to move, Susan was not sure whether it was the right decision for her to go to China with me.


I had to go on faith and trust the answer that I received. We moved and there were plenty of ongoing challenges, and the ups and downs of life and relationships. However, it was a wonderful growing opportunity for me personally and for my family. I also had a growing confidence that while I could remember my sins, I was no longer consumed by the guilt nor embarrassed for my mistakes because I was clean and forgiven. I found I was much more willing to talk about my mistakes and what I was learning from them. This was something that I had feared for 30 years that drove me to the secrecy which helped feed my addition. Sharing what I am learning and what wonderful things the Lord has done for me has become a source of joy to me as I realize we are all on a similar journey — we all make mistakes that we can only overcome through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Sometimes I can help my brother along the path, and many times there is someone helping me. Through all of it, my Savior continues to lead me along the path of slow progress as I press forward one day at a time.